April 21, 2006
Fr. Louis Brum
Holy Spirit Parish Council
Holy Spirit Finance Council
Enclosed you will find the letter and raffle tickets we recently received, unsolicited, at our home exhorting us to try our best to sell them to friends and neighbors. I am returning them because I disagree with this means of fund-raising at Holy Spirit Parish.
I also wish to communicate my sadness that the mismanagement of our parish, the “banning” of some parishioners from ministries, the firing of our beloved choir director, and the holding of secret parish council meetings away from church premises, have brought us to the point – for the first time in over 20 years – of having to hold a parish-wide raffle in order to help the parish make its budget.
Furthermore, I wish to state my disappointment that the planning for the 25th anniversary of the parish includes a “semi-formal dinner/dance” which I understand will require parishioners to pay a high-ticket price to attend. Such an event will only serve to exacerbate and further divide the parish into the “haves” and the “have-nots.” This is further evidence to me of the tendency in recent months to appoint to positions of leadership and ministry a preponderance of those who are in positions of power in the community as business owners, managers, or professionals. In the past, our parish held free dances for entire families, where one and all were welcome to come and enjoy one another’s company. (Yes, on occasion, other “fancy” dinner theater or dance events were held in the past, but these were always to raise funds for a particular worthy group in the parish, not to go into the general parish coffers.)
But this is all of a piece with the other signs we have seen over the past year that continue to emphasize the message that money talks, including the introduction of gold chalices. Even in this case, the purchase had to be of large vessels, rather than more modest ones. And in this case, the point was further driven home in that they were purchased individually by particular families or individuals, who were then invited to a “special” mass of thanksgiving and appreciation.
The claim that we are “one parish family” rings very hollow, indeed. Gone are the days that Holy Spirit was a parish at which all were welcome, no matter their income, no matter their station in life, no matter their politics, no matter their personal spirituality. Those of us who are saddened by these and many other changes no longer feel welcome; indeed, we feel alienated. That is why, this past Lent, our family decided to “give up” something completely different: Holy Spirit Parish. We visited other churches some weekends and simply stayed home on others.
I am especially disappointed that – should we return to and continue coming to Mass at Holy Spirit – our daughters will not have the opportunity our sons had to grow in faith through service and the works of justice and peace. It is our hope that each of our children grow up to become compassionate people who see it as their mission in life to help others and to make this a more just and peaceful world. It would have been wonderful to have them grow in this way being able to fully integrate their ethics with their faith. Perhaps it may still be so, but I doubt it can be at Holy Spirit given the current state of the parish.
Weary and saddened,
Sunday, April 23, 2006
To: Reflections of the Spirit
We received in yesterday's mail our copy of the letter and the raffle tickets that Felipe Salinas wrote about in his letter to Fr. Louie. Although the raffle appears to comply with the requirements of a charitable raffle under Texas law, the sale or distribution of lottery or raffle tickets through the U.S. Mail violates federal law (18 USC § 1302) and is punishable by fine or imprisonment up to two years, or both.
I've attached a link to the statute in case your readers are interested:
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